Oakland City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney has served the residents of perhaps the most complicated Oakland City Council District in our city very well. Understand that while District Three is commonly thought of as being only West Oakland, in reality it’s also Downtown Oakland, Uptown Oakland, and Adams Point / Lake Merritt, where I live.
So, Lynette has a big job, and on balance has served all of the residents well. She deserves to be re-elected, and particularly at a time where Oakland, Alameda County, California, America, and The World is in the clutches of The Pandemic. Changing horses in the middle of the stream is never a good idea, so why do it now? Besides, the reasons I’m hearing why some are not voting for Lynette are such that I’ll bet no one else will fair better.
The specific reasons are these:
1) Lynette is not accessible, and her aide responds rather than her – As one who represented Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris from 1995 to 1999, I find that aides to elected officials get treated like crap by Oakland residents far too often. The job of the aide is to represent the, in this case, Oakland City Councilmember. And Lynette’s aides have done that very well. News-flash: she can’t be everywhere, and her representatives help her.
2) She wasn’t present for Moms4Housing – As Lynette told me during our interview of 10 days ago now, the Moms4Housing Representatives did not approach her ahead of time with their plans, even though the entire matter happened in her council district. The full interview:
The ultimate sign of disrespect is for someone to launch a campaign around the issue of housing that focuses on a property in an Oakland City Council Member’s district and not consult them. The reasons can’t be good ones, because, by design, they are assumptive. How does anyone know she would not have been receptive to their objectives of a type of taking of property, and tried to help so that they would not be framed as criminals?
Lynette believed that, because they did not approach her, to then show up at their events uninvited would cause her to be seen as trying to steal their message. My take on Moms4Housing was that their effort pointed to a giant problem, but did nothing to solve it: the market failure that’s still with us in super-high-housing-costs and illegal evictions of black Oakland residents that a sustained California Redevelopment Law would have thwarted.
Instead, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan allowed former Mayor of Oakland Jerry Brown to get rid of California Redevelopment Law, and now Oakland’s once formidable affordable housing construction budget of over $100 million annually was cut off in 2011, never to return and at the time of SF Bay Area Tech Boom II, from 2012 to 2019.
In the middle of this, Moms4Housing tried to pick sides prematurely. For example, from my perspective, it’s minders failed to respond to my request to run their press releases or interview them, so I had to end-run them many times using tech. Their idea seemed be to try and paint me as against them, when my thoughts were the opposite. That said, I did run press releases from their opponents, and because they sent them. It’s called news. Moreover, I’ve never been a fan of what’s called a “taking without just compensation” (and the U.S. Constitution doesn’t allow it either), and that, in effect, is what Moms4Housing tried to do.
Their assumptions amounted to a type of picking of fights that are not there, and their words, more often than not, were hurtful. And, on top of that, we’re talking about a black-on-black affair, where folks like Lynette and myself were the focus of wrongheaded derision, and by some other folks of the same skin color. And on top of that, many of the folks are ones I really like, just to be real here. In my view, anyone white was treated better, for the most part – even those who openly opposed them.
The fact is that in Oakland, we as black folks are far too willing to assume something negative about someone else who’s black, but not in what’s perceived as that person’s group. It’s a horrible crab-barrel social problem that has plagued Oakland for decades, and with no end in sight. Moms4Housing spotlighted that problem that the white media missed, even as it was in their face.
What Lynette Did Was Spot Light The Violence Problems Black Women Face In Oakland
What Lynette does not get credit for is spotlighting the problem of violence against black women. That was the focus of her push to establish the Oakland Office Of Violence Prevention. And while I remain assertive that the real problem is lack of good jobs and an economic development effort that’s dead, I have seen the advantage of the Oakland Office Of Violence Prevention: it gives a much-needed place in Oakland government for people, and again in particular black women, to go for real, comprehensive help. That this is forgotten that Lynette created the Oakland Office Of Violence Prevention is one more example of the many actions that, collectively, caused a performer like Megan Thee Stallion to get on Saturday Night Live and point to the consistent disrespect and disregard black women receive in America, and that includes Oakland.
It’s worse when other blacks in Oakland don’t give Lynette that credit. That’s got to stop.
Lynette Makes Her Case For Re-Election And It’s Worth Reading
In her most recent campaign newsletter, Lynette made her case for re-election. It’s worth a read, even though she left out the Office Of Violence Prevention. But, overall, one has to ask, what does she have to do? It’s as if some people want to find some reason to oppose her.
For example, some will mention the Oakland Public Ethics Commission’s recent investigation not of her, but mentions alleged laundered money given to her campaign in the past, as well as that of Oakland councilmembers Sheng Thao and Dan Kalb. Well, I challenge any candidate to prove that they know anything about who gives them money, why, and where they got it from to give. Moreover, why would the Oakland Public Ethics Commission choose an election period to release news about a lawsuit and investigation that’s not primarily focused on Oakland councilmembers, but names some? That action, alone, is illegal in several states – it looks like the Oakland Public Ethics Commission and the Oakland City Attorney are trying to influence voters. Not a cool look.
What does Lynette have to do? Well, she’s done this, from her newsletter:
Partnered with our County Supervisor Keith Carson to pioneer the Compassionate Communities initiative
Co-authored Measure JJ – expanding Just Cause Eviction and Rent Increase protections
Secured 10s of millions of dollars in new homelessness funding by pushing to include $150 Million for Affordable Housing in the Infrastructure Bond (Measure KK) and the Parks Measure (Measure Q) – offering amendments that guaranteed set asides for no and extremely low income housing
Engaged Congresswoman Barbara Lee and led the effort to turn back draconian reductions in Section 8 vouchers
Pushed to protect single room occupancy transient hotels – housing of last resort that does not discriminate for credit worthiness or for lack of substantial deposits
Demanded increased coordination to respond to encampments and improve service delivery to the unhoused.
As your representative on the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) I have:
Helped pass AB1487 (2019) the bill that established the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA). BAHFA, and the expanded regional housing portfolio, is rooted in the “3Ps” framework that comprehensively addresses the housing crisis through a combination of production, preservation and protection. Specifically:
Production of rental housing for lower-income households (at or below 80% of the area median income or AMI)
Preservation of affordable housing for low-or moderate-income households (up to 120% of AMI)
Protecting tenants from displacement and preventing homelessness
Stopped an effort to impose a regressive sales tax on Oakland households, demanding that large employers pay their fair share to fund housing and relieve transportation stress caused by job growth
I am currently working with OUSD on a plan to house all homeless students and their families and this year I was selected by ABAG President Jesse Arreguin to serve on the newly established Regional Housing Committee. In this capacity I make sure Oakland’s needs are at the center of identifying regional solutions. And now, after five years of persistent advocacy, the Council is now positioned to take action on many of the efforts I have championed.
COVID19 lays bare the dire needs for housing security and hunger – two issues that have begged for attention amongst the organized campaigns for many good causes. By partnering with my Council colleagues that represent Oakland’s flatlands, I was able to direct nearly $30 million of CARES ACT funds to addressing these critical needs in the flatlands, allowing the City to purchase hotels and an abandoned dormitory to house more of our houseless constituents.
If the challengers think they can match her, I would offer that we as Oaklanders would have to sit and wait for that person to learn the Oakland legislative ropes before they could be effective, whereas the saying “been there, done that” applies to Councilmember McElhaney.
Re-elect Councilmember McElhaney for District Three.
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